The child sex abuse inquiry set up in Britain in the wake of the Jimmy Savile scandal has now turned its focus to England’s national church.
The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) found that between 1940 and 2018, some 390 people employed by the church, as clergymen or in trusted positions, were convicted of child sex abuse.
They were ‘forgiven’ for their crimes by the church and allowed to continue their duties, often in close proximity to children, the IICSA found.
“The culture of the Church of England facilitated it becoming a place where abusers could hide,” the report reads.
The inquiry found the church repeatedly failed to respond in a consistent manner to victims and survivors of abuse, compounding their trauma over a period of decades.
In 2018 alone, there were some 2,504 concerns raised about possible abuse of children or vulnerable adults, including 449 allegations of recent sexual abuse.
“Over many decades, the Church of England failed to protect children and young people from sexual abusers, instead facilitating a culture where perpetrators could hide and victims faced barriers to disclosure that many could not overcome,” chair of the inquiry, professor Alexis Jay said.
The IICSA lambasted the church for regarding forgiveness “as the appropriate response to any admission of wrongdoing.”
One such case highlighted is that of Timothy Storey, a man who was permitted to continue working with children after apologising “for everything he had done wrong.” Storey is currently serving a 15-year prison sentence for multiple offences against young girls, including rape.